Portuguese doctors may be divided over the use of anti-parasitic medication Ivermectin to treat the early stages of Covid-19, but those that support it are adamant that it works.
One of a group that is pushing for wider availability of the drug says he won’t be taking up the vaccine, as Ivermectin will do the job.
“I believe in the scientific evidence that exists”, António Pedro Machado has told Correio da Manhã, which says old people’s homes “from the north to the south of the country have resorted to Ivermectin to ensure residents don’t develop the most serious forms of Covid-19”.
According to Dr Machado, he used the drug on an outbreak at a Santa Misericórdia home where 68 seniors were affected. “There were only three deaths”, he told CM. “Two of the patients had serious illnesses and the other only started taking Ivermectin when he had already developed grave pneumonia”.
“I am not a (pandemic) negationist in any way”, he insisted. “I recommend to all my patients that they should get vaccinated as soon as they can, but I won’t be. Indeed, he said he has been taking Ivermectin as a prophylactic “for months”.
The issue of using the drug – initially created 30 years ago for parasitic roundworm infections – has been tossed this way and that since the start of the pandemic: with pretty much as many doctors saying they trust it for Covid-19 as those that say they don’t.
The editors of Frontiers in Pharmacology, one of America’s leading publications of its kind, accepted an article stressing the benefits of using Ivermectin on Covid patients in January but have since rejected it on the basis that it “contained unsubstantiated claims and violated the journal’s editorial policies”.
The paper’s authors, an organisation called the Front Line Covid-19 Critical Care Alliance is alleging censorship.
Here in Portugal, two patients treated with Ivermectin when they contracted the virus cannot speak highly enough about it.
Said Maria Madalena Cotovio, “after two days taking Ivermectin, my husband (aged 71) woke up without fever. I associated it straight away to the medication because he wasn’t taking anything else. I was very surprised, but at the same time, relieved”.
The beauty of Ivermectin is that it is produced, without a patent, by Portuguese pharmaceutical company Hovione, in Loures (on the outskirts of Lisbon).
It costs less than €5 a month, says CM.
Talking to Observador last week, Germano de Sousa – former president of the Portuguese General Medical Council, a specialist in clinical pathology and lecturer at the New University of Lisbon’s Faculty of Medical Sciences – said he too has been taking Ivermectin as a prophylactic, along with four other colleagues, particularly as he tests around 700 samples taken from people suspected of having the virus everyday in his laboratory.
He told the online: “While I haven’t been given the vaccine, I use Ivermectin, with other safeguards like the mask and disinfection of hands, as something that protects”.
Germano de Sousa stressed that there are those who argue the scientific evidence isn’t sufficiently robust. But he told Observador: “I know it is”.
He is one of the group of professionals pushing medicines authority Infarmed to run a clinical trial on the use of the drug with Covid patients, to prove it.
Elsewhere, there has been talk of a danger to the liver if Ivermectin is ‘badly administered’. But Henrique Carreira – another doctor who uses the drug on seniors in an old people’s home – told a recent webinar on the subject that this is just nonsense.
Ivermectin is “not metabolised in the liver, contrary to what studies that have appeared are now saying”, he said. “It’s completely false and just to denegrate something that is making a lot of people uncomfortable”.
For now, Ivermectin is only available on a medical prescription.
Since writing this article, we have been sent this short clip about two further Covid patients who say Ivermectin ‘made all the difference’ to their symptoms and recoveries click here